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Travis County May Spend $3 Million
to Tackle Tax Inequity

by Kevin Kirkpatrick, San Antonio, September 2014

 

Travis County Commissioners will be voting this month (September) on a 2015 Fiscal Year budget that includes funds to scrutinize the Appraisal District's property tax assessments. The request for a $2.9 million increase for the Travis County Appraisal District was released in the county's preliminary budget proposal.

 

The county is preparing to lobby for changes in the law to create more equity among commercial and residential property owners.

 

Tax Roll Not Challenged

 

The Commissioners Court contemplated taking an unprecedented move in June to challenge the entire commercial property tax roll. This came after residential owners packed a commissioner's meeting to protest. The homeowners said they feel commercial entities aren't paying their fair share of taxes.

 

After deciding not to challenge the tax roll, officials voted to study the accuracy of the county's property appraisals. The proposed budget increase for the Appraisal District would add to these efforts.

 

How the Money Would Be Spent

 

If approved by County Commissioners, the budget increase for the Appraisal District would fund:

 

  • Additional litigation resources

  • Staff to handle the increased volume of property tax protests

  • Resources for the testing and calibration of mass appraisal models

  • New staff to research sales information, particularly for commercial properties

Texas is one of the few states that doesn't require disclosure of property sale prices. Officials say because of this, the district is only able to research approximately 11% of known commercial sales.

 

Commissioners are scheduled to approve the added funds for the Appraisal District when the Fiscal Year 2015 budget is adopted on September 23.